Environmental assessment filed on 100-MW North Star Solar project in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Commerce on Sept. 24 filed with the state Public Utilities Commission an environmental assessment related to a pending application from North Star Solar PV LLC for a Site Permit to construct 100 MW of photovoltaic generation in Chisago County, and a Route Permit to build one-half mile of 115-kV transmission line to interconnect the project at the Chisago Substation.

The estimated developed area would cover approximately 800 acres. North Star submitted its Site and Route Permit Application to the commission on Feb. 11. Following release of this Environmental Assessment, a public hearing will be held in the project area. The hearing will be presided over by an Administrative Law Judge from the Office of Administrative Hearings. Upon completion of the environmental review and hearing process, the case record will be presented to the commission for a final decision. A decision is anticipated by January 2016.

North Star Solar PV proposes to construct the project at a single location in Chisago County. North Star expects to interconnect 100 MW of solar generation (accredited capacity of approximately 68%) at the 115-kV bus of the Chisago Substation in Lent Township (inside the southernmost portion of the project boundary). This would require building approximately one-half mile of 115 kV line from the Project substation, across property owned by Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL), to the Chisago Substation.

The project was proposed in response to Xcel Energy’s Solar Request for Proposals (RFP) to help fulfill the Minnesota Solar Energy Standard which requires the company to serve 1.5% of its retail load with solar energy by the end of 2020. As a result of the RFP, Xcel Energy negotiated Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) with three of the competing proposals for a total of 187 MW. The three winning solar projects are:

  • Marshall Solar, a 62.25 MW project located near Marshall;
  • MN Solar I, a 24.75 MW project located near Tracy; and
  • the North Star 100 MW project near North Branch.

The Minnesota commission approved Xcel Energy’s “Solar Portfolio” in a March 24 order.

A project contact is: North Star Solar PV LLC, 3 Radnor Corporate Center, Suite 300, 100 Matsonford Road, Radnor, PA 19087, Chase Whitney, Originator, chase.whitney@communityenergyinc.com, (303) 444-1412.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.